Paula Cademartori doesn't like to show off when it comes to her own designs. "I'd rather a sober luxury, the kind you can find in details," says the Italian-Brazilian. "I want people to recognise my bags for their clasp that's also the logo and without having to write my name in capital letters." Though Cademartori's designs are understated, her range is anything but safe and unadventurous. The designer, who worked for Versace before launching her line in 2010, typically likes to combine patchwork suede, lizard and pattern, injecting a vibrant jolt of colour into classic shapes.
Alongside the premier league designers who steer their own fashion labels, there is often a right-hand person working diligently behind the scenes to bring the collections to completion. And few are more capable than Myriam Schaefer. She was the designer who created Balenciaga's handbags, including the popular multi-zip "City" design in 2000. Prior to that, Schaefer was creative director at Nina Ricci and had worked at Jean-Paul Gaultier. Now the time is right for her to step into the spotlight with a collection of clean, minimal bags in highest quality leathers. "I wanted to be free at last," she says, "and to be allowed to show what I do without having to deal with other people's egos." For Schaefer, it is a desire for one-off products that inspires her the most. "I spend my life in antique stores looking at 18th-century work where every piece was unique," she says. "I want my bags to go by the same rules. I wouldn't want to find the same exact couch as mine in a neighbour's residence."
American designer Paul Morelli may be better known for his opulent jewellery, having spent the last three decades in this field, but he is now adding bag design to his repertoire. For Morelli, embracing new opportunities is precisely what has defined his career. Having initially wanted to be a news reporter, he ended up designing ready-to-wear for a friend's boutique in the '60s and began creating jewellery, almost by accident, after helping out another associate with their range. "This bag collection is another vehicle in which I can expand my brand further into the luxury accessories world and makes reference to my latest successes as a jewellery designer," declares Morelli. "I'm hoping that those who have responded to what I've done in the past will support what I am delving into now."
Oliver Ruuger's journey into design began on a small remote island off the Estonian coast. It was there that a passion for craft and working with his hands first took root. "I've always loved leather as a material, ever since I remember my grandfather tanning some sheep and rabbit skins with salt. They were yellowy and very tough, more like a drum skin, but I still remember the smell of them," he recalls. After a brief flirtation with snooker, Ruuger graduated with a fashion BA from Kingston and a MA from the London College of Fashion, and landed accessories collection of the year at ITS 2011 in Trieste. Shunning the traditional route of designing seasonally, Ruuger crafts made-to-order bags that sit between fashion and fine art. His latest project sees the designer working with poet Mihkel Kaevats and artist Stuart Patience to produce an illustrated story etched on to his bespoke briefcases.
High-kicking showgirls in their sequined bodysuits and socialites partying across America during the '50s and '60s inspired designer Brett Heyman to launch her own collection of bags. These women and their innovative mid-century lucite handbags (a hard plastic developed in the 1930s) fascinated Parker, who since high school has collected such bags. By 2010, though, the originals were proving harder to source, obliging the New York designer to make her own. "There are so many amazing fabrications that I've only seen in books and I was desperate to see them made again," says Parker. Cubed, cylindrical and rectangular-shaped bags with glitter flakes embedded in the acrylic are modern interpretations that are destined to have a new generation hooked. §